It was a well known fact that during his time in West London with Chelsea, it was the dream of Eden Hazard to one day play for Real Madrid.
Those dreams didn’t stop the Belgian international from performing to an extremely high level with the Blues winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup and two Europa League crowns too.
After helping the side to their second Europa League title with a brace in a 4-1 win over Arsenal, Hazard completed that dream move to the Bernabeu in a €100m move on a five-year deal. He was given the legendary number seven shirt worn previously by Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul, Emiliano Butragueno and, erm, Mariano Diaz.
Since the signing though, next to nothing has gone right for Hazard.
As we enter December of his second season, Hazard has made just 28 appearances in all competitions scoring three goals. He’s yet to have a run in the team of more than four games in a row since joining due to injury problems, with the 29 year old being unavailable for more time than he has been available.
During his tenure at Chelsea, Hazard missed just 15 games through injury in seven years. It’s hard to know what’s really changed for him in Spain too, considering his time at Chelsea.
While in London Hazard played under six managers, meaning he would’ve have been training under several different regimes and playing in different systems. The Premier League is known to be more physical and quicker, so it’s odd that his body seemingly adapted to that so well in comparison.
One thing that won’t have helped the winger is his habit of returning from breaks of play with some timber on his body. It was reported during his first season that at one point, Hazard weighed in seven kilograms over his optimal weight and Madrid needed to put him on a specific training plan to help him shed it.
As Hazard starts to enter the final chapter of his career, it’s possible his body is just slowing down. He broke into the Lille team aged just 17 and has been played in 35 games or more in all competitions since the 2008/09 season.
Similarly to Wayne Rooney and Cesc Fabregas, having played so much football as a youngster he may just be hitting the twilight a bit earlier than the usual stars who don’t break into a team until around the age of 20 or 21.
Madrid were hoping to have captured the electric, dangerous and talismanic winger that Chelsea had the pleasure of having in their side for seven years. Instead, they seem to have got a dynamite footballer at the end of his fuse.
But for a miracle turnaround, Hazard’s Madrid dream could end up going down as a nightmare end to his glittering career.